And yet Farscape makes her so real through the others’ reactions to her that it becomes absolutely heartbreaking to behold. The way Chiana strokes the trembling Pilot’s arm; the tears of pain and guilt that Zhaan sheds over what they did–it’s both remarkable and devastating, but most of all because it’s the only solution (as a fearful Pilot says, “The Builders put our fates in your care, Zhaan. Whatever you decide, we will abide by it,” which of course destroys her all the more) and one that was only necessary because they had brought something harmful on board. Granted, it was done in an attempt to save D’Argo’s son’s life, not for profit or greed, but at least for that moment, Moya would have been better off without them, and that’s agonizing for Zhaan and the others to realize. Even Aeryn is quietly devastated when she returns, guilt-ridden for her part in this disaster.
Because, again, the situation seems hopeless at the end. They have a collection of ragtag cutthroats and thieves but no money to pay them (the only thing keeping them in line being when Rygel tosses Durka’s severed head to the floor in front of them and threatening the same to them, an admittedly amazing moment in which the little guy is truly intimidating), and therefore no way to save Jothee from Scorpius. Until suddenly a short time later, when Jothee just arrives on Moya, and his father and he have a teary reunion, again magnificently played by Simcoe, as well as Matt Newton as Jothee. Aeryn gives a rare, wholehearted smile, fully inspired by being happy for her friend. Her face suddenly drops, however, when Jothee remarks that Scorpius had just let him go, as does D’Argo’s. They realize at the same time that John must have turned himself in when they weren’t paying attention, guilt and horror etched on D’Argo’s face. He had raised so many doubts over John’s friendship and loyalty over the past few days that he feels deeply ashamed, while at the same time surely a level of deep gratitude and admiration for his selfless sacrifice. Crichton had said before that he would never allow Scorpy to take him alive again, but here he does in order to save his best friend’s son’s life. He feels that D’Argo, Moya, and his other friends had suffered for long enough on his behalf, and now it’s time to pay the piper–an ending whose darkness is undercut only by the genuine love that informs Crichton’s heartbreaking decision.
Other odds and ends:
–I love the wonderfully sycophantic moment in which Braca expresses disgust at Jothee’s mixed race status in Scorpy’s earshot while failing to remember that his boss is a “half-breed,” as well, leading to much obsequiousness on Braca’s part. It’s funny but also an interesting hint that sets up the viewer to possibly believe Braca when he seems to betray Scorpius in the final season.
–We learn a bit more about both Natira and Scorpy’s pasts in this one, as well. Apparently, she took him in when he was still an angry young man and they both owe each other their lives. She was also around back when he had his first surgery for his coolant rod device, which is much more advanced now. They also clearly had some sort of sexual relationship back then, which they continue to indulge in in this one, to the shudders of most audience members. I particularly love that they know each other so well that Scorpy isn’t even mad at her for trying to kill him. “You wouldn’t have respected me otherwise,” she responds. And, really, who else could have gotten away with that?
–Another particularly shocking moment is when Stark loses his temper at Scorpius, yelling, “You murdered my people…Thousands of Baniks as if they were nothing. And all for one boy! Well, go ahead and kill Jothee if you want because he means nothing to me! You’re not getting Crichton!,” before cutting off the transmission and incurring both Chiana and Zhaan’s wrath, at least shortly. It’s another example of Stark not only being unhinged but not having the exact same goals as the others. Just as when he tried to sell out Crais and Talyn in “The Ugly Truth,” he cares more about the friends among them that he knows, not others who they are attached to. Furthermore, he is suffering. Not only had nearly 10,000 of his people just died but, being Stykeran, he had felt every one of them crossing over at once (Scorpy had them all released into the vacuum of space), and in the moment, he probably wants to hurt Scorpius. If for only a split second, he might think that Scorpy doesn’t have anything over them to get Crichton, so Stark probably sees it as worth it. He claims that he knows Scorpy would never have believed him or killed Jothee and that the real reason he did it was to distract Scorpy from discovering that Moya was in danger, but Chiana and Zhaan are right to be angry because he was playing with fire here.
–Earlier on, the episode also contains a turning point in the John/Harvey relationship when he initiates a conversation with the neural clone, something he apparently shouldn’t be able to do. This sets the stage for their sort-of “friendship” becoming more of a two-way street with John asserting more control over the situation. Of course, he won’t be able to do that successfully this season, but the seeds of that are planted here.
–This episode has one of my favorite titles of the series. “With Friends Like These…” of course most directly refers to the mercenaries they assemble, but on another level, it ironically refers to Moya’s crew, who have to nearly fatally burn her in an attempt to save her, after their own actions go haywire. With friends like those, who needs enemies?
2.21: “Liars, Guns, and Money, Part III: Plan B” Original airdate: 19 January 2000
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the “Liars, Guns & Money” trilogy versus the “Look at the Princess” trilogy is that the latter (which is technically the former, chronologically speaking) was an extremely complex but more linear story, in which the narrative escalated from chapter to chapter, ultimately culminating in a big climax, whereas the former (again, the latter, really) has a more unusual structure, which is namely that in the first episode, they have a quest which they complete but utterly screw themselves in the process, although they don’t realize it until the second episode, when everything that could possibly go wrong does, and in the third, they effectively recreate their quest from the first one, only now with even higher stakes and much worse danger, this time emerging almost entirely victorious in every way–including even seeming to have finished Scorpy off once and for all–except for having utterly lost Crichton to insanity. Not many series would be brave enough to take their hero from the boyish, wide-eyed optimist he was in season 1 to someone so mentally brutalized that the penultimate episode of season 2 closes on him sincerely begging his best friend to kill him in order to end his misery. This is some powerfully dark stuff, casting an incredibly bleak shadow on what otherwise should have been a joyous occasion and while we now know that Crichton will be happy again, at this point in the narrative, there is no guarantee. And as I said before, the tunnel will only grow darker before our friends can finally emerge into the light, and even then, things are never 100% perfect for them.